Getting to spend lots and lots of time with your toddler is such a blessing. But, let’s face it, it’s not always the easiest thing in the world!
Lots of time with your toddler = lots of wear and tear on patience and energy.
Or you could be like me, and the week before your period you turn into an exhausted ball of emotional-wreckage.
We all want to be the best mom we can be for our babies. We all try to push our energy and patience as far as they’ll go and hope we can make it to bedtime. We all face mother’s guilt because of these emotions and the desire for a break.
So on those days where there’s no break in sight, on the days you wake up not feeling you, on the days that your toddler seems to be pushing your buttons more than normal, what can you do?
Here are some ideas:
1. Get out of the house. Go to a park. Go have a picnic. If you have some extra money, go on a lunch date. Go to the library. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Find a friend to have a last-minute play date.
2. Watch old movies of your baby when they were little(r). This is weirdly rejuvinating for me. It reminds me of how quickly she’s grown and how much fun we’ve had. How many memories, how many smiles, how many “I love you’s,” how quickly these days of her saying the funniest things, being so attached to me, and wanting to play every second of every day will come and go.
3. Tell them you need some down time. Tell them you need 30 minutes or whatever to rest. Set a timer and tell them they can watch a movie, read books, play by themselves, whatever they want, but that you need some time to sit. They’ll get the hang of it soon!
4. Tell them HONESTLY how you’re feeling. Whether you’re not feeling so well or you’re frustrated or just plain tired. This teaches them how to communicate their emotions in the future and handle them calmly.
5. Treat yourself sometimes, too. Make some chocolate chip cookies, stop for a smoothie, rent a movie YOU want to see for nap time, splurge on a favorite coffee drink. Everybody needs a little pick-me-up every once in a while!
6. Have a movie day/night. This gives you the chance to rest, keeps conflict to a minimum, gives you a long window to snuggle, and you’re both having fun. Redbox movies are only $1.20-something. There are also some promo codes to try here, that can give you one free rental.
7. Pray for patience. Praying WITH your toddler is also really great. Not only is it the most adorable thing you’ll ever witness, but it shows them your connection with God, how you can lean on Him when you’re having a hard time, and how they can talk to God anytime they want.
8. Call in some back-up. By back-up, I just mean a friend or close relative. Somebody that loves seeing you and loves seeing your little one. Somebody you don’t have to worry about “entertaining,” though (that’d just heap more stress on to your shoulders). This is a great way to change the mood and focus for you and your toddler!
9. Create situations where they CAN have control and you can relax. Get some non-toxic finger paint, put them in some old clothes, and put them outside. Get yourself a lawn chair and let them paint the driveway, some plates, maybe tape some paper down. Make some sort of fun bath time goo and let them smudge it around the bath tub. Get a bunch of toys and books and go somewhere that’s always baby-proofed. Then you can sit back and read or something.
In one of my many books about toddlers, I read that when you realize you’re saying no so much that you’re annoying yourself, your toddler is most likely in need of some no-boundaries play for a while (hence why they keep testing the boundaries, they’re getting frustrated, too). This is when you should create these relatively no-limit situations. If there are a few rules to abide by (like no going into the street for the finger painting example), establish that right when you start. Tell them that if they break that rule, finger painting will be over. My daughter is very responsive to those kinds of situations where she has some responsibility and will be held accountable for good and bad decisions. Pulling these types of activities off will be so refreshing for both of you!
10. If you’re feeling angry or very frustrated, take a breather by yourself. Set up your child with a movie, book, toys, whatever somewhere they can’t get into more trouble. Then take a few minutes. Take some deep breaths, pray, meditate, read, cry it out, listen to music, stretch… If you did lash out at them before taking a breather, go back in and say you’re sorry. Ask for their forgiveness. Tell them that wasn’t the right way to behave. That is, after all, what we expect from them, right?